Getting the best out of Google AdWords
Written by Ken Ross, managing director of London based media & marketing business nowcommunications.co.uk
Google’s AdWords system enables companies to attract customers by creating ads and choosing keywords, which are words or phrases related to their business. When people search on Google using one of their keywords, the company’s ad may appear next to the search results so they are advertising to an audience that is already interested in the company. Ken Ross (right), MD of London based media & marketing business nowcommunications.co.uk explains how best to reach customers via the online advertising system.
Google AdWords are touted as a simple, cost effective system that takes just minutes to set up. So how come we’re all recruiting specialist Pay Per Click consultants to do the job for us? In this article we look at the advertising phenomenon that’s captured over 80 percent of the Pay Per Click market and pinpoint the AdWords pitfalls that are driving marketing people to seek professional guidance.
Callum Bridgeford is director at online health and wellness business Energise For Life. Typical of many online retailers, Google AdWords has become the cornerstone of the business’ advertising initiative. With a professional background in consultancy and keenly honed online marketing skills, Callum was better prepared than most when the Google AdWords phenomena hit the web earlier this decade. Now, four years on and with conversion rates via AdWords more than double the national average, Callum is ready to turn responsibility over to a third party Pay Per Click consultancy.
“Google AdWords can be dangerous in its simplicity,” says Callum. “While setting up a campaign may take less than half an hour, even the most conservative budget can be wasted if these campaigns are not consistently monitored and revised. Typically these days, we have hundreds of campaigns running at the same time and all of them demand constant care and attention. It’s an activity that has grown with our business and we need to be confident that it continues to receive adequate care and attention as we upscale and develop.”
Mindful of AdWords’ role in building the Energise business into one of the UK’s most successful health retailers, Callum is now developing working relationships with outsourced Pay Per Click experts as part of the business’ next phase of development.
Marc Warren, director at Pay Per Click specialists Periscopix says the Energise For Life example is typical: SME’s are adoption the tactic early in-house then outsourcing the activity once it’s helped them generate market share and establish their business. “Over the last 12 months more and more clients have been coming to us with real experience of using AdWords to run self administered campaigns,” says Marc.
“They’re coming because AdWords are becoming more expensive and the tools that support the campaigns are becoming more complex. Since most of them attribute a high proportion of their business’ success to AdWords, it’s not something they outsource lightly.”
One of the main concerns for businesses as they seek to outsource campaigns is charging says Marc: “If a business like ours chooses to charge a commission then, arguably, the whole AdWords principle of quality rather than quantity goes out the window.” Rather than charge basic commissions, Periscopix’s consultancy and management fees are typically set at between £500- £1000 per month with additional click through costs passed on directly to the client.
“Most clients in the habit of spending anything from £1000 per month will find that the time they are saving on managing their AdWords campaigns coupled with the improvements in lead generation that we are able to achieve, more than pays for the fees charged.”
Getting started with AdWords
The key to success with AdWords is to select highly specified key words for campaigns that direct people to equally specific product or service areas of your web site. Start by making some common sense decisions about the key words you are going to use to drive people to your offers, then make sure that click throughs point prospects directly to specific product pages. Common errors at this stage are to think too generically about the keywords you pick.
As a major player in the health and wellbeing market, Callum at Energise knows that choosing a key word like “detox” will drive hundreds of new visits to his site, but these visits are more likely to come from random surfers than customers with real buying intent. Conversely, many AdWords users take great care to construct highly granular campaigns only to find they fall flat because interested prospects are pointed simply to the home pages of a website rather then carefully selected product or “landing” pages” specific to the campaign.”
Typically, AdWord users should be working towards achieving click through rates of about five percent (ie: For every 100 people presented with the opportunity to click through to your site, five of them do). But getting your offer in front of the right people is only half the story. The real challenge is to make sure the information you present them with motivates them to purchase.
Constantly researching effectiveness and modifying campaigns is what takes time and effort. Typically Callum’s Energise for Life business will launch up to 100 campaigns at one time and expect about 20 percent of them to really work well. By carefully tracking traffic and identifying the best delivering campaigns quickly, funds can be speedily redeployed to support the best campaigns that are delivering the most traffic. One good idea is carry out split testing, where you run two campaigns for the same product at once, watching closely to see which set of vocabulary is working best to drive surfers to the product you want them to buy.
Callum estimates that a good AdWords campaign should cost approximately five percent of a product’s selling price (ie: if a product costs £80 then an expenditure of about £4 per product should be anticipated when constructing the campaign). Moreover the system acts as an effective barometer for interest in the products and services you have on offer. In many cases when conversion rates remain low after a number of campaigns, a business may even choose to stop stocking the product altogether.
But what about the other search engines? Yahoo is currently revamping its keyword advertising model and MSN Search is aggressively pushing new advertising options out to the market. So shouldn’t we be touting our keyword business about all the major players for the best deal? Not according to the Pay Per Click experts: With no sign of Google’s mighty 85% stranglehold on the UK search market loosening off anytime soon, researching the options and offers with the search marketing wannabees isn’t likely to be a viable option for many of us anytime soon.
Adventures in AdWords
Thinking of taking your first steps in search marketing? Most AdWords novices make three fundamental errors when they map out their first campaigns. Here are the big pitfalls to avoid.
• Keyword selection: Keywords chosen are frequently too broad. This can generate huge amounts of traffic that deliver disappointing conversion rates at high cost.
• Google Search vs. Google Content Network: amateur enthusiasts rarely understand the difference between Google Search and the Google Content Network: Google Search is the classic search engine that most of us use every day. Google Content Network is the name for the third party content that Google supplies to other companies (like the Telegraph newspaper, for instance). Since the AdWords account management interface is defaulted to ensure your campaigns appear on both, many people end up wasting hard earned marketing budget by generating click throughs via third party online vehicles that are unlikely to deliver quality prospects.
• Matching techniques: Google’s set up tools offer three options for matching your keywords with search content: broad, phrase and exact. Most campaigns are set up with broad match. This give Google licence to show the ad when they think your keyword matches the search criteria entered by a surfer. For instance, an ad by a travel company offering holidays on a cruise ship may be considered an appropriate match to search criteria like “Tom Cruise”. It’s only by understanding the nuances between matching options and being able to inject refinements like “negative keywords” that AdWords campaigns can successfully filter out these errors.